“My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit
and in this way prove that you are my disciples.” (John 15:8, CEB)
So, upon reading John 15:8, I decided to “Google” the word fruit to see what may come up. The very first search result read, “In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants” (which then forced me to look up the definition of “botany” … now I know). Anyway, this definition really caused me to think about the gospel writer’s use of that term, fruit. Here, Jesus is being quoted as to his expectations of his disciples, whom we know went on to be his continued living presence in the world, i.e., his Church.
Mapping this definition of the word fruit upon Jesus’ words, could it be that Jesus was saying that discipleship is all about producing “fruit”, that in turn produces and bears the seeds for the continuation of his Church … just like seeds of a flowering plant are the continuation of its beautiful flower into the future. I think so! For, continuing Christ’s Church, means continuing and manifesting the living presence of Christ in our world.
For me, this adds so much more substance to the basic premise of the Lenten journey we have been traveling together, i.e., “The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations”. As we learn more about and embrace practices that help us be continually more fruitful as a congregation, we live more and more into Christ’s definition of being his disciples. When we do that, we produce fruit by inviting, welcoming, and nurturing others into discipleship. And when we do that, the church—which we may imagine as a field of amazing, colorful and beautiful flowering plants—continually grows and strengthens. So much so, that it literally changes the lives of those who experience it. What an image for the Church (I wonder if that was what Jesus was imagining as he spoke those words so many years ago).
Well, even if Jesus had a slightly different image in mind when he used this metaphor, I think I still get his foundational meaning … that is:
Being his disciple, necessarily means,
Leading others into discipleship,
Such that we all may be fruit bearers of
His Good News of redemption, restoration, and salvation.
Can you think of a better way to glorify the one living God whose love for you exceeds description, and whose steadfast faithfulness can be counted on no matter what? And what better image of new life, made possible through the Resurrection, can there be than a seed? What an image to keep in view as we continue our journey through Lent and into the new life of Easter.
And so, may you embrace your call as a producer of fruit, and prayerfully consider inviting someone you know to the remainder of our Lenten services, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and definitely Easter Sunday worship. Just imagine the beautiful flower you may make possible to bloom.
May this be a most fruitful Easter season for you and all who are part of your life.
Blessings … Pastor Bob